VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game
One of the greatest names in boardgaming history. Go on, just say it out loud to yourself a few times.
I ordered this game based mostly off of a reddit comment which suggested this was one of the best dice games out there. The reason I even read that comment was because I was riding high off of Pandemic: The Cure and was looking for another dice game to tempt Dee with. After a few minutes of rigorous searching on Amazon, I ordered the game and waited eagerly. The game arrived a few days ago, and I soloed a two-player game of it in order to learn the rules. Playing that way can be a little misleading. After having learned the rules, I still didn’t know how the game felt. I was skeptical. The last two nights I’ve been trying to get Dee to play, but she’s had other commitments and I’ve been exhausted. Thankfully, tonight I was able to sneak in a real, legitimate solo game against one of the two provided AIs.
So what do I think so far?
I played three games back to back. That alone should indicate something. It’s not everything - I only played Friday once that first night and didn’t feel any urge to play it again. Friday was interesting, though - it festered. And the more I played it, the more intrigued I became. I am very much looking forward to returning to Friday… anyway, let’s return to VivaJava Dice.
As I mentioned, I was skeptical that VivaJava Dice would actually be fun. In particular, there’s a rule that after you score a feature blend, you just pass on your turn. This reminds me of Red November and how it has boring lulls where you simply wait around for things to happen. It turns out that the turns are short and snappy enough to offset any sense of a lull. It’s actually fairly neat how it winds up feeling; a roll here by the AI that just misses, dilute your blend by one die and start fretting about how much easier it’ll be for the AI to replace your blend… rinse and repeat. It gives a rhythm and a sense of building anticipation.
There are two particular mechanics that stood out from my play tonight. After you score a blend, on each subsequent turn said blend gets diluted by losing a die. This is so integral to the gameplay and so necessary, yet it hints at the amount of playtesting that must have gone into the game. I like that. I’m also a big fan of how research in the game works. Research is how you unlock abilities to do things like roll more than once, or improve a given roll. It gives the game a bit of a deckbuilder feel, though you only make progress in this regard when you’re not directly scoring performance points from a blend. It works really well.
On a side note, I was originally turned off by the score trackers. They still irk me a bit, but I don’t fully understand why. It’s the same thing as having a paper pad and pencil in Yahtzee and maybe that’s why I don’t like it. In practice, though, it worked well, I had no issues, and it didn’t negatively impact the game in any way.
In summary, I’ve definitely had fun playing this game so far, and I’m looking forward to more!